South Florida Cities are Overwhelmingly Banning Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

South Florida Cities are Overwhelmingly Banning Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

South Florida cities voted strongly in favor of medical marijuana for the most part, as did most of the state of Florida. The elected officials representing many of these south Florida cities and towns are banning medical marijuana treatment centers though for a variety of reasons that simply do not reflect the will of the voters.

It may simply be that such a massive shift in policy, such as legalizing medical marijuana versus enforcing laws where any sort of marijuana distribution or possession was a major crime, takes a while to make its transition. It may also be that part of voting for legalized medical marijuana for many Florida towns, will also be to place another vote to switch out the current elected officials that are unwilling to change. Do you know who you are voting for during the next election?

It is hard enough to get people to actually vote, as simple as that task may be.

It is even harder when elected officials tell people essentially, that your vote means absolutely nothing.

But that’s the message voters are getting in South Florida, after the state voted overwhelmingly to allow dispensaries for medical marijuana.

When the medical marijuana amendment was on the ballot last November, 72 percent of Florida voters — an overwhelming majority — supported it. Those voters understood that the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes would be a real source of pain relief for many folks who were suffering with various diseases.

Medical marijuana had failed once before, but now Floridians were saying that if pot could give some relief to people who needed it for medical reasons, why not?

Voters may have said that, but at least six South Florida cities have banned, or plan to ban, the dispensaries where legal marijuana can be procured.

The cities that have banned dispensaries are Lauderdale-by-the-Sea (where 73 percent of the voters approved medical marijuana), Royal Palm Beach (74 percent), Southwest Ranches (70 percent) and Sea Ranch Lakes (63 percent). Cities considering a ban are Boca Raton (76 percent approved the medical marijuana amendment) and Coral Springs (76 percent).

Officials in those cities are coming up with all sorts of reasons why they don’t want dispensaries. The bottom line is your vote didn’t matter.

‘”These cities are hurting their own citizens and their own economy,” Orlando attorney John Morgan told the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board. Morgan was one of the major backers of the marijuana amendment and a man who may run for governor of Florida next year.

“It’s the arrogance of politicians, and it’s why they are universally despised at the local, state and national level.

“Those (politicians) are placing themselves at risk in the next election. If I was running against those people, I would use that (attempt to ban dispensaries) as a rallying cry.”

Some of the excuses being given for not wanting the dispensaries are laughable.

Some cities say they are concerned because dispensaries are a cash-only business, and there is a great potential for pot shops to be targeted by thieves. If that’s the case, then they should probably ban all ATMs. Last we saw, ATMs were cash-only.

Crime statistics concerning legal dispensaries are hard to come by as the industry expands, and, understandably, operators are reluctant to talk about how much cash they can have on hand.

Southwest Ranches justified its ban by citing the town’s “fiscal inability to provide additional public safety personnel” to protect businesses and the public. Interesting. Cities all over Broward and Palm Beach counties have gun shops, and they don’t see the need to provide “additional public safety personnel” to protect the public.

In Boca Raton, there is the thought that residents can go to nearby Boynton Beach and Lake Worth, which are allowing the dispensaries. No reason for Boca to do the same.

Yes, those cities might be nearby. But why should a resident have to go to the trouble of going to another city when their own city approved the measure by a 3-1 margin. Public officials very rarely get approved by a 3-1 margin, but medical marijuana did.

Officials in other cities say they are concerned because medical marijuana will find its way into the hands of recreational users. If people want pot for recreational use, they are going to find it, no matter what amendment passed.

The whole idea was to make marijuana available to folks seeking a little relief from pain. The bogus excuses against allowing the dispensaries are just that — bogus.

“I don’t understand it,” Arlene Owens, 71, of Boca Raton told the Sun Sentinel when talking about the bans. She said she wants to try medical marijuana rather than live with the pain pump that helps relieve her spinal compression and arthritis.


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